First off, i want to explain that “High Power LEDs” should probably read best place to buy led strip lights. By my calculations this whole setup uses about 23w of electricity.
Anyways, once you have new kitchen cabinets and getting a nice shiny granite counter top installed it was time to have some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that would complement the look I used to be concentrating on while being wonderfully functional too.
This instructable is going to explain to you how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting for less than $120 nevertheless achieved professional results better than every commercially available system I surely could see personally.
This is a true DIY system, not much of a guide regarding how to install a commercially available system. So prior to starting, know that as i think this should be considered an “easy” project basic skills are required such as being comfortable working around electricity (that may be dangerous!) and you need to know the way to solder. Apart from that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is the longest step! This really is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this task to see the materials list and build instructions…
Under cabinet lights can make or break a kitchen. They could add instant and real interest a place, but they need to meet certain criteria. They have to succeed task lights. They need to add the correct “ambiance”. They should match up with the current lighting scheme, and finally they must work efficiently and last a long time (simply because that installing lights within your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to have to re-practice it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I could cross off of the typical halogen puck lights very quickly. These are bright and delightful, nonetheless they have many weaknesses. They may be too large, too hot, and as a result they don’t last lengthy (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Possibly the worst part on them may be the horrible amount of wire found it necessary to hook them up!
Scouring the internet for project ideas turned up hardly any truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were associated with installing an industrial product. I checked with local lighting stores and diy stores and discovered solutions that have been either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I stumbled upon some modular systems that came close to the things i was envisioning, but I quickly stumbled on the final outcome that I could construct it to look and perform better, for cheaper.
I actually have some fundamental LED knowledge from constructing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I believe that the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting in recent times. I’ve also messed around with many normal 5mm LEDs and such while experimenting with my arduino and other electronic gadgets. I am still by no means a professional…
With LEDs you have to keep a few things in your mind. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting may be split up into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light throughout the surface (like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights provide a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that start out really high when you’re right underneath the light fading out as you may move further away from the light.
I went through several designs for both and found that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs placed on a lengthy, thin PCB or flex tape. These are typically nice, low-profile options, however, I found that they aren’t nearly as intense as single lights. Should I were to execute a strip light application using LEDs I would use 2 rows to get enough light. Using 2 rows increased the charge significantly though.
I ended up being settling on high power 3W LEDs, much like just what are commonly used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, installed out lots of light and there are numerous drivers that are good for powering this sort of led strip light kit, especially in order to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming as well as PWM dimming). The main part is getting the spacing right to avoid shadows and to offer the right thermal setup. I experimented a great deal and decided the best light was once the LEDs were spaced evenly apart underneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and that i would probably be wasting efficiency (because I would personally turn out dimming it more often than not). Less LEDs than that we can be sacrificing some of the practical task lighting.
For power I went with a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used have got a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just add up the whole forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and ensure the operator you acquire supports that voltage at whatever current you want. 700mA is a superb amount of current because it possesses a good efficiency nevertheless the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to better than that, and even though they generally do get brighter the better current you feed them, they get yourself a lot hotter along with the efficiency drops also. I decided to use a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A fantastic thing about this driver (and several others too) is that it’s scalable. In line with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs at least 18v along with a maximum of 54v. Because of this in case you have 3v LEDs you are able to safely use at the least 6 LEDs along with a maximum of 17 LEDs approximately (you desire a little wiggle room on the top range). Using the spacing I described above you can light anywhere from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! Should you still require more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just locate a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you need. Just take your LED voltage on the current you want and multiply it with the # of LEDs you would like to receive the voltage requirement. Meanwell, Inventronics, and Phillips Xitanium are a few. A LED driver takes your homes 120v power and converts it into DC power for that LEDs.
Thermal management will probably be essential in a higher power LED array, and although I was thinking about just using aluminum channel or flat bar from home depot I ended up with a more elegant (and a lot more effective) solution that didn’t cost any longer. I spent a lot of time searching for heatsinks and even though I stumbled upon a bunch, they mostly originated from China or these folks were too tall for my application (I simply have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I ended up being deciding to employ a really nifty looking circular heatsink that had been designed to be utilized with LEDs. A typical CPU style heatsink wouldn’t work in this application because the heatsink has to be against wood, which means this design is perfect to acquire enough airflow. Furthermore, you can find this heatsink in several different heights, with no drilling must mount the under cabinet led lighting or even the heatsink towards the underside in the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s remember about color! This has become the most important… I would cope with those crappy halogen pucks before I selected a fluorescent light with this exact reason. Colour temperature will probably dictate the atmosphere in the lighting and also how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food on the counter and the broccoli looks brown… You’re not planning to desire to eat that. Now imaging looking at broccoli that appears neat and bright green, like you just harvested it. That’s the effectiveness of selecting the right color light.
Warm white is definitely the color usually chosen, and the color I desired for my kitchen. The kelvin range for “warm white” is between 2700k and 3500k. Warm white has got the highest CRI (color rendering index) and IMO things look most true alive under this color lighting. I made the decision to be about the slightly cooler end in the spectrum though, since i have don’t have numerous windows. I decided 3250k LEDs that i found correlate very well towards the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that I utilization in the ceiling lights. On that note you need to make an effort to match the color of your under cabinet lights to the other lights within your kitchen or it is going to look funny. So that you would either must discover the right color LEDs or you’ll should change out of the other lights inside your kitchen.
So those are essentially the principles I utilized to design the machine. Depending on your home you may have to tweak several things, however i a few things i created has worked out really Properly for me and also for my purposes.